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Posts from the ‘Made in the USA’ Category

Why We Do This: Historic Wooden Boats on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon

A heartfelt series of guest posts from our friend Greg Hatten begins this week.

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March of 2014 was a deadly month in the Grand Canyon for river runners.   The water level was well below average and even the most experienced boatmen saw water dynamics they had never seen before.  Low water created new hazards – holes were deeper, drops were sharper, jagged rocks that rarely see sunlight punched holes in our boats and holes in our confidence.

An accomplished group of nine kayakers just a few miles ahead of us lost one of their team mates to the river below Lava Falls.  There was a another serious accident in the group two days behind us midway through the trip.

Some of our wood boats were damaged, a few of our rubber rafts flipped, oars and ribs and teeth were broken, a helicopter rescue was required for a member of our team on Day 4. After 280 miles and 24 days on the water, we reached the end of the Grand Canyon and all agreed we were ready to do it again…as soon as possible.

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Who are we and why do we do this???   

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We are a band of wood boat enthusiasts who came to the Grand Canyon in March to re-run a famous trip from 1964 with our wood dory replicas, our canvas tents and bedrolls, our Pendleton wool blankets, and a couple of great photographers to capture the adventure.

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Fifty years ago, that trip played a crucial role in saving the Grand Canyon from two proposed dams that were already under construction.  If THAT trip had not happened, THIS trip would not have been possible and our campsites would be at the bottom of a reservoir instead of beside the river.  River running on the Colorado through the Grand Canyon would’ve been replaced by “Reservoir Running in Pontoons,” as most of the Grand Canyon would’ve been hundreds of feet under water.

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We are celebrating the success of the trip of  ‘64 and paying tribute to those men who left a legacy for future river runners like us to run the big water of the Colorado through the Grand Canyon in river boats.  We are brought together by Dave Mortenson, whose dad was one of those pioneers.

“Who we are” is easier to answer than “Why we do this.” There are moments on trips like these, when we are at the crossroads of chaos – where adventure and wonder intersect with danger and consequence – and the outcome is uncertain. THAT’s what makes it an adventure.  I can only speak for myself – but here’s my shot at answering “why…”

I do this because the Grand Canyon takes my breath away.  The first time I saw it from the bottom looking up, I fell in love with this place and was absolutely amazed by the size and beauty of the canyon.  Everything is bigger, deeper, taller, more colorful, more powerful, more everything than anyplace I have ever been.

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I do this because the Colorado River tests my physical ability as a boatman like no other river I have ever boated.  This is one of the most powerful rivers in North America and when that strong current bends the oars I’m rowing and I feel the raw force shooting up my aching arms and across my tired back, I’m electrified and anxious at the same time.

I do this because the rapids on this river test my mental ability as a boatman.  My friend and veteran Canyoneer Craig Wolfson calls it “Nerve.”  Scouting severe rapids and seeing the safest “line” to run is one thing – having the nerve to put your boat on that line is another.  Most of the difficult rapids require a run that puts your boat inches from disaster at the entry point in order to avoid calamity at the bottom.  Everything in your “experience” tells you to avoid the danger at the top – but you mustn’t.  Overriding those instincts and pulling off a successful run is a mental tug of war that is challenging beyond belief.

I do this because of the bonds we form as a team of 16 individuals working and cooking and rowing and eating and drinking and laughing together for 280 miles.  We problem-solve together, we celebrate together, we look out for each other, and we find a way to get along when every once-in-awhile the stress of the trip makes “some” of us a little “cranky.”   Sometimes, we experience the most vulnerable moments of our lives together.  These people are lifetime friends as a result of this adventure.

 

And finally – I do this because it brings out the best in me.  My senses are better, my mind is clearer, my body is stronger and I like to think I’m friendlier, funnier, more generous, and more helpful down in the Canyon.  It makes me want to be this open with people up on Rim when I get back to my regular routine.  It’s hard to articulate but for me, the place is magic.

Greg Hatten

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Coming up…

Next….. You can read in detail how we carefully “scout” and how we the run the violent rapids of the Colorado in hand-made historic wooden boats made of ¼” plywood.  If we make a mistake we pay a heavy price – which you will see in “Running A Rapid.”

Finally…. You can read about camp life on the Colorado.  What it’s like to sleep in the canyon for a month.  How we cook, clean, relax, and get re-charged for a challenging day on the river.  There are beautiful night-time shots for you to enjoy in “Camp in the Canyon.”

 

Pendleton Woolen Mills Receives the Port of Portland’s 2014 Compass Award

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When we opened our store at the Portland International Airport, we partnered with the Port of Portland, which oversees our city’s commerce by river, rail, road and plane. The airport location has given us a wonderful opportunity to share our very-Oregon brand with the rest of the country as it passes through PDX (which is what we call our airport, for you out-of-towners). The Port recognized our association with the Port of Portland 2014 Compass Award at the recent “Tradition of Trade” annual luncheon.

 

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The award recognizes the personal efforts of our company’s president, Mort Bishop, as well as Pendleton’s corporate support and involvement. Said Port Commission Vice President Paul Rosenbaum, “Like the points of a compass, their business partnership and confidence in local operations have helped us navigate and achieve key Port goals such as job creation and environmental stewardship.”

During the award presentation, Mr. Rosenbaum cited Pendleton as one of Oregon’s heritage enterprises, and applauded our focus on building positive relationships with Oregon’s tribal community—the original founders of trade in the Northwest. “Mort and his family have led the Pendleton enterprise for six generations,” said Mr. Rosenbaum. “Pendleton’s rich American heritage and deep roots in the Pacific Northwest is a source of pride for all Oregonians.”

Company president Mort Bishop accepted the Compass Award on behalf of Pendleton Woolen Mills. In his words, “100 years ago, there were over 1,000 woolen mills in this country. Today we operate two of only a handful that survive – Washougal and Pendleton. Our facilities are state of the art, providing American jobs, utilizing sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices, employing world class technology. Pendleton uses some of the world’s finest wool fleeces from right here in Oregon…from generations of the same ranch families for over 100 years.  When you buy a Pendleton, you are literally and metaphorically buying the fabric of Oregon.”

More than 500 business leaders, elected officials and community stakeholders attended this year’s Gateway to the Globe luncheon. It was quite an event, and the Compass Award is quite an honor.

For Your Easter Bunnies.

Well, we have no rabbits. No rabbits, no hares, not a bunny in sight. But we do have some newly-arrived stuffed friends who could hop into anyone’s heart.

First, there’s Hamilton Bear, made of our own non-toxic and washable wool. He’s a little guy with a lot of personality.

 

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Then, there’s Yuji Bear in two colors; a wild and wooly fellow if there ever were one.

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They join the usual cast of characters that includes Chauncey Bear and Franklin Horse at pendleton-usa.com. And they’d love to be in a basket!

 

Have a wonderful holiday.

Blackfern Boards x Pendleton, up close

As we head into the final days of our Surf Pendleton pin-to-win contest, we thought you’d enjoy an in-depth look at the making of the board you can win. So here, in their own words, are all the steps that go into making these fine boards–one at a time, all by hand.

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Making the Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard

Each Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard is shaped, painted, glassed, sanded, and glossed by hand in Blackfern’s fabrication studio in Portland, Oregon.

Retro Styling

For the Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard, a 1960’s era single fin model was chosen.  This timeless retro board embodies the lifestyle of the era; clean, simple, and stylish.  Many of these retro shapes are having a resurgence in popularity because of their versatility in a range of surf conditions.  The board style pays homage to an era in which Pendleton was a vibrant force in Californian surf culture.

The Process Starts

The first step in the fabrication process is to trace out the outline of the board onto a blank, which is a rough-cut piece of foam that resembles a surfboard, albeit not a very functional one.  The outline is cut out of the blank, not unlike making Christmas cookies, and the excess foam is removed.  The outline is then tuned by a rasp-like tool called a surform, in order to hone the perfect curve that will define the finished board.

From Bottom…

The next step is to craft the bottom of the board.  This process begins by power planing or “skinning” the protective outer shell of the blank that protects the softer foam within.  After the skin is removed, the bottom contours are shaped in by removing material with additional passes with the power planer, surform, and finally, sanding blocks.  The single fin model features shallow concavity through the middle of the bottom, blending into a V contoured tail.  These contours give the board a loose and nimble feel with higher performance than would be achievable with a flat bottomed board.

…To Top

At this point it is time to flip the blank over and begin working on the top of the board.  Similar to the bottom, the first step is to remove the protective skin of the blank.  During this process,  I start to flesh out the top contours and the “foil” of the board.  Foil refers to the changing thickness, both from the center towards the rails as well as from the tip to the tail of the board.  It is during this process that a shaper’s ability to visualize in three dimensions becomes crucial.  Knowing where to remove material and in what quantity can be tricky.  The goal is to produce a smoothly foiled board; maintaining volume in helpful areas and removing it where unneeded.

Forming the Rails

After the top has been shaped and foiled, its time to move onto the rails of the surfboard.  At this point the board has a functional top and bottom but with its boxy, vertical rails, it would be miserable to surf.  To form a smooth curving rail, I begin removing rail material in the form of rail “bands.”  Bands are sloped ridges that run the length of the board; thickest at the middle and thinner towards the tip and tail.  By removing rail material incrementally in these stepped ridges, it is possible to produce a rail that changes shape and thickness in a controlled and consistent fashion.  Once the bands are crafted to satisfaction, the board is turned onto its rail and I begin passing a sanding screen over the ridges of the “bands.”  After screening repeatedly, the ridges disappears and a smoothly curving rail emerges.

Finishing Foam Touches

The final steps of the shaping process are to install the slider single fin box and to finish sand the entire shaped surfboard to a buttery smooth finish.  The board is signed off to the customer who ordered it.  I write the customer’s name, the dimensions of the board, and finally “Pendleton Surf Limited Edition.”

Getting that distinctive Pendleton look

The specialized Pendleton artwork is applied before glassing the board.  The two color versions vary on their preparation.  To produce the characteristic plaid pattern, I start off by creating a series of vertical stripes that represent the four primary colors of the pattern.  I then lay out horizontal bands that cross directly over the vertical bands.  I use the same four primary colors and spray through a sanding screen, producing the blended color tones featured in the plaid print.  Finally, I add a band of dark color around the rails of the surfboard to form a frame of sorts.

For the striped version, I tape off three zones of the board; center, nose, and tail.  Within these zones, alternating colored bands of varying thicknesses are laid down to form the distinctive, classic pattern.

Onward to Glassing

Glassing is only achievable in incremental steps, similar to the process of shaping the foam of the board.  Glassing consists of four separate treatments of resin that constitute the glassing process; two laminations and two hotcoats.  A lamination is the process through which fiberglass cloth, saturated with resin, is bonded to the fragile foam core.  A hot coat is an additional layer of resin that helps protect the fiberglass cloth and completely seal the inner foam core.

Laminations

The first lamination occurs on the bottom of the surfboard.  To prepare for the lamination, the top of the board is taped and masked to avoid being exposed to resin prematurely.  A piece of fiberglass cloth is rolled out over the length of the board and is cut so that the fabric drapes over the rails, usually extending approximately 2-4 inches below the beginning of the rail.  Surf Pendleton and Blackfern decals and fin boxes are dry fitted to ensure that no mishaps occur.  The entire surface of the board is then “wetted out” with polyester laminating resin.  A squeegee is used to work the resin into the porous foam of the board and to fully saturate the fiberglass cloth.  The cloth is carefully wrapped over the rails and the board is left to harden or “cure”.

Once the bottom is cured, the board is flipped over and the same process is done to the top, this time with two layers of fiberglass cloth to add additional strength to the deck.  After wrapping the top layers of fiberglass onto the bottom of the board, the resin and fiberglass are left to cure once again.

Hotcoats

To hotcoat the board and finish glassing the board, another coat of polyester resin called sanding resin is applied to each side of the board.  This process is among the most simple of all the steps of surfboard fabrication – resin is poured out of a small pail and then spread evenly over the surface of the board with a large paint brush.  Each side is left to cure before flipping the board a final time to hotcoat the other side.

Hot coating produces a slick, imperfect surface.  In order to make it ready for use, every square inch of the board must be sanded.  Sanding makes the surfboard finally feel like a surfboard; smooth, strong, and perfect.  Many boards are considered finished and ready for use at this stage but the Pendleton boards receive one additional treatment – a gloss coat.

Glossing

The gloss coat is nearly identical to the hotcoat.  The only major difference in the processes is that the gloss coat resin is slightly thinner and is applied to a perfectly smooth, even surface.  As a result, less resin is required and a perfectly smooth surface is formed.  Even so, the entire board is sanded again to make it ready for use.  Successive sand paper treatments, each one higher grit than the last, are used to form completely smooth and scratch free surface.

Finishing Touches

To bring a shine to the finished product, buffing compound is applied using a woolen compounding bonnet.  Finally, a treatment of polishing compound is applied to all surfaces of the board using a polishing pad to give it a candy-like luster.

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Tools and hands have passed over every square inch of this board dozens of times and, at last, this Pendleton Limited Edition Surfboard is ready to ride!  Get ready to catch some great waves!

 

 

Surf Pendleton – Win a Custom Board by Blackfern!

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WIN THE ULTIMATE RIDE – A CUSTOM PENDLETON SURFBOARD

To celebrate its surfing roots and the new collection, Pendleton is hosting the Pin-to-Win Surf Pendleton Contest March 17 – April 28, 2014. Grand Prize is a custom Pendleton Surfboard in the original surf plaid worth $1200; Second Prize is a $400 Pendleton gift card; and Third Prize is a $200 gift card. Contestants enter online using their Pinterest account information.

BLACKFERN SURFBOARDS,

A ONE-OF-A-KIND COMPANY

Blackfern Surfboards is a backyard board company based in Portland, Oregon. Started in 2008, it possesses a distinctly Oregon ocean-meets-the-forest aesthetic. The company creates one-of-a-kind custom surfboards designed in collaboration with each customer. Each board is handmade in Portland by local wave-obsessed surfers.

SURF VISIONARY MIKE HALL

Waves off the rugged Oregon coast are like no others on earth. After much frustration with boards that were not suited to Oregon’s choppy waves, veteran surfer Mike Hall decided to shape his own board – and the rest, as they say, is history. With much trial and error, he found a set of design characteristics that perform well in Oregon’s unique waters. After designing boards for a few friends, Mike devised the Blackfern concept – a grassroots effort to put locally made custom boards into the hands of those who venture into the Pacific Northwest surf.

THE MAKING OF A PENDLETON BOARD

In tribute to a time when Pendleton was a vibrant force in the California surf culture, a 1960s-era single-fin model was chosen. This timeless retro board embodies the lifestyle of the era – clean, simple and stylish. From start to finish, each is a handmade work of art – shaped, painted, glassed, sanded and glossed by hand in Blackfern’s fabrication studio in Portland.

  • The first step is to trace the outline of the board onto a blank, which is a rough-cut piece of foam.
  • Next the bottom is crafted, then the top is shaped and foiled.
  • Then the rails are formed and the final shape begins to emerge.
  • The final steps of the shaping process are the installation of the slider single-fin box and a sanding to a buttery smooth finish. At this point, Mike writes the customer’s name, board dimensions, and “Pendleton Surf Limited Edition” on the board.
  • Next the Pendleton plaid or stripe pattern is applied.
  • Then comes glassing – a four-step process that consists of two laminations and two hotcoats.
  • Finally, a gloss coat is applied and buffed to a candy-like luster.

Tools and hands have passed over every square inch of the board dozens of times.

MAKING THE PENDLETON
LIMITED EDITION SURFBOARD

By Michael Hall, Blackfern Surfboards

Serapes for Spring

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Ah, the serape. Just looking at it makes you happy. This blanket reads modern, but it has been around a long time.

The serape’s roots are in the Mexican weaving tradition, but it is now common to both Spanish and Native American textiles. Here’s a photo of a Native family in a historic Babbitt Brothers wagon with a serape peeking over the edge. This was taken in the Southwest, where the Babbitts plied (and still ply) their trade.

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Colorful, sturdy and functional, this blanket shawl was part of life in the traditional Mexican home. It could serve as clothing, bedding and shelter!

The serape is known by many names throughout Mexico, including chamarro, cobiga, and gaban. It can be woven of a variety of materials and patterns but is generally lighter in weight. Different regions use different palettes, from the elegant neutrals of the Mexican highlands to the bold gradients of Coahuila.

Pendleton’s serapes are woven of 82% wool/18% cotton in bands of gradient colors to achieve that beautiful eye-popping dimensional effect. This is your perfect spring and summer blanket, just waiting to be invited along wherever you go.

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All made in the USA and available at www.pendleton-usa.com .

Visit Pendleton’s Past in Downtown Portland

Through February 28th, Pendleton’s history is on display at the Oregon Historical Society. This beautiful building on Portland’s South Park Blocks is very near Portland State University and the Portland Art Museum. Sounds like a great day downtown, doesn’t it?

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The exhibit is a fun way to learn just how Pendleton is woven into Oregon’s history. The desk on display was an old oak roll-top from our corporate headquarters. It was reserved for use by the mill manager when he made his way to Portland from Washougal. Our current manager may have opened a laptop on it a time or two, but times have changed and the desk sat unused for decades.

As we approached the 150th anniversary of the opening of Thomas Kay’s mill, our visual manager, Shelley Prael, decided to incorporate the desk into a display at a sales meeting. When she opened the drawers, she found them full of items belonging to Thomas Kay’s nephew, C.P. Bishop, who used the desk in the old Bishop’s store in Salem.

Numerous treasures, including his college yearbooks, journal and eyeglasses, were accessioned into our archives. But don’t worry, some are on loan to the exhibit, along with other artifacts and a timeline that takes you from 1863 to the present.

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More information here.

The Wilderness Collective

This post looks back to this past summer, when we helped outfit The Wilderness Collective for a trip to the Eastern Sierras. For this trip, they rode in on horse, braving rain and rocky trails for the reward of some serious fishing and camping away from the distractions of modern life.

The Wilderness Collective’s tagline is “Legendary Adventures for Men.” The gear is high-end, the aesthetic tends towards the curated, but there is no denying that these adventures are the real thing.

Watch the film below. Don’t you want to go?

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The real stars of the film are the horses. They patiently pick their way across this stunning landscape, shod hooves on sharp rocks, to take the Wilderness Collective into seriously rugged territory. These horses definitely earned their Pendleton saddle blankets.

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You can read more about The Wilderness Collective and see films of their other journeys here.

All Aboard with AMTRAK’s Portland Express

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This beautiful car is part of the new  Portland Express, or, as 1859 magazine calls it, “The most Portland train car ever.”

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With an array of makers’ good that include Pendleton wool slipcovers, typewriters, bottles of Oregon rain, chocolates, papers and more, this is one club car you won’t want to miss. Check out more photos here.

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The Portland Express celebrates the  AMTRAK expansion between Vancouver B.C and Eugene, OR.  Details on booking here.

The Drift Boat Adventure for Kids

Greg Hatten, our drift boat adventurer, has been embarking on a new adventure, besides running the rivers of America in handcrafted wooden drift boats. He’s taken on grandfathering in a big way, with three little ones under two years old in his family.

Greg decided that for Christmas, he’d build his grandkids a rocking boat just like his own boat, at 33% the size. He worked with his boat-building buddy, Roger Fletcher, to make it happen.

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The results? Beautiful.

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The boats are carefully hand-built in the same way as the full-size drift boats for which Greg is so well-known. That is a lot of measuring, cutting, shaping, joining, sanding, staining and sealing. As Greg told us, “I only know how to build boats one way.”

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Greg also adapted the classic children’s poem, “Winkin, Blinkin & Nod” by Eugene Field to reflect his passion for drift boating (and Pendleton blankets, it seems). He published copies for each of the grandkids, and the books and boat were quite the hits.

So please enjoy these photos of Greg’s grandkids enjoying their new boat. Information on the rocking boat and book can be found at the Rocking Boat website.

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